❄ What Elsa Needed

Frozen, as a film, illustrates the havoc that comes from treating a child's gifts/true self as something to be feared and contained. It was clear to me, as a former educator, that Elsa's upbringing and education was sorely lacking in these areas. So, from this perspective, I have written the following guide:

Education Strategy

For a child like Elsa, gifted and already quite self-aware, this would have been my strategy for educating her:

Private tutoring in magic, ideally with someone who is also gifted at working with ice and snow

A private tutor who has Elsa's same gifts would provide her with both a role model and a living common-sense guide to owning her powers. She could feel comfortable asking her tutor about controlling and harnessing her gift, what its real-world applications and dangers are, and what possibly caused her to have this gift in the first place.

Honesty and transparency about the gift with others, including the kingdom at large

The king and queen should have Arendelle's media celebrate Elsa's gift and give her many opportunities to showcase its benevolent power, through both public art/sculpture displays and demonstrations of its practical applications. With the political force of the crown behind these press releases, plus the ability to interact with Elsa and see the powers displayed firsthand, this should squelch public fear.

Social & emotional support for the entire royal family

Elsa needs this support because, as we see in the movie, without it she becomes neurotically afraid of her gift; Anna needs it because she may otherwise feel like the forgotten sister, unwanted because Elsa is so talented. The king and queen also need support because raising a gifted child can feel as if the child is speeding past your control, at an age when you expected them to need you a little while longer.

A complete non-magical education among non-magical children

This step is vital for training Elsa's mental stamina, critical thinking, reasoning, and leadership abilities. Simply put, if Elsa is allowed to completely rely on her gift and is never taught anything else, she will flounder as a queen. Secondly, if she is educated in this way among non-magical children, she will be able to relate to her future subjects in a more compassionate way.

Regular exposure to other magically gifted children

If other magical gifts exist in the world of Frozen as a film, Elsa needs to meet them so that she understands she is not alone in being gifted. It'd be ideal if she were around kids who were gifted with other elements. (In short, Elsa needs to go to Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters for a little while!)

Why I Recommend This

I recommend this course of action both as a former teacher and as a gifted yet emotionally troubled student myself. I was fortunate to have supportive parents, and so I made it through my formal schooling without the hangups that Elsa has (putting it mildly). Yet I still suffered intense fear of failure and often got picked on for being too smart and making top notch grades, among myriad other things. So, strategies like the ones above are many-pronged, to handle all the psychological and emotional issues that come up when you have a gifted kid that has emotional difficulties--like me, and like Elsa.

Foundational Research and Experience

If Elsa was included in a non-magical classroom, she would have an IEP, or Individualized Education Plan; hers would be specifically tailored for social/emotional support, such as this one. Monthly family conferences with an outside therapist would be advocated, and Elsa would likely be called in for monthly assessments with a school counselor as well. Any academic weaknesses in non-magical subject matter could also be tackled with an IEP, but its primary function would be to bolster Elsa's emotional development as a gifted child; her skills may look adult, but her heart is still a child's. (This is arguably still true even at the end of the movie.) Additionally, a Behavior Intervention Plan could be developed if Elsa begins to go down the dark emotional path she follows in the movie (source).

An "emotional IEP" is just now being advocated in schools to help gifted children acclimate better to school environments, and to ensure that their emotional development is healthy. I'm not 100% sure if I had an emotional IEP myself, but given the number of times I went to school psychologist appointments during elementary school, it's a safe bet I did--and it worked wonders, at a time when I was getting wildly upset with anxiety more often than not. Elsa, too, would benefit from this type of therapy and guidance, especially in how to harness her gift so that it works to her benefit rather than going off half-cocked all the time.

Having both private tutoring time and inclusive education time helps any gifted child develop better social skills--and it's a sight better than sequestering Elsa away from anyone and everyone. However, Elsa must be trained at least a little in how to manage her ice powers so that they don't accidentally freeze another student, and teachers must be advised and trained in how to deal with possible freezing incidents in the classroom. Here, a private tutor as described above would work wonders; the tutor could function as a one-on-one aide in the classroom if a behavior incident gets out of control. It would not be appropriate, however, to "warn" parents of other children about this, since with proper training and emotional nurturing, the likelihood of an outburst would be low.